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Qatar vs Ecuador Predictions

  • 16:00
  • Expired
  • Khalifa International Stadium
Qatar
Ecuador
  • BBC One

Both Teams To Score

Reason for tip

Ecuador recorded their best ever scoring campaign on the way to the tournament, scoring 27 times across 18 matches during a tough South American campaign. Qatar have scoring threat through Almoez Ali, but they’ve conceded 33 times in 18 meetings with sides in the top 50. The last four World Cup openers have seen a total of 17 goals scored, so back goals in this clash.

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Draw 2-2

Reason for tip

Ecuador have won just eight of their last 11 matches, while Qatar have won in only three of the last 18 games in which they’ve faced a top 50 side in the world. In the modern era the host nation has never lost an opener, but no debutant has won their opener tournament game since 2002.

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Almoez Ali To Score Anytime

Reason for tip

Almoez Ali scored a competition record nine goals during Qatar’s victorious Asian Cup campaign in 2019. He was in clinical form, scoring those from just 10 total shots on target. He scored four goals in five at the Gold Cup last year, so back him to strike in the opener.

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Qatar vs Ecuador Predictions

  • Ecuador scored 27 goals in South American qualifying, their best ever return
  • Qatar have conceded 33 times across their last 18 meetings with sides ranked 50th or higher in the world
  • There have been 17 goals scored across the last four World Cup openers
  • Ecuador have drawn eight of their last 11 matches

Can Qatar handle curtain call?

After years of build-up, controversy and criticism Qatar step onto the world stage as they make the World Cup debut. They are the first side to debut as hosts since the 1930s, while no side has won their debut game at this competition since Senegal in 2002.

However, host nations have a fine record at World Cups, especially since they switch to put them in the opener started in 2006. Germany, Brazil and Russia won their opening games, while South Africa drew 1-1 with Mexico.

In the modern 32-team era no host nation has lost their opener. In 2002 Japan drew 2-2 with Belgium and South Korea beat Poland 2-0, while France beat South Africa 3-0 in 1998. Can Qatar – now ranked 50th in the world by FIFA – continue that strong run?

Expect an open occasion

As opening games go, Qatar against Ecuador isn’t exactly a glamourous fixture. However, there are plenty of reasons to have faith in goals in Al-Khor on Sunday. First off, these two met in Qatar in October 2018, a game in which the Qataris won 4-3.

Since then, Ecuador have undergone a rebuild, promoting a new generation who have helped them return to the World Cup. The average age of Ecuador’s starting lineups during World Cup qualifying was 25 years and 334 days, the youngest of any South American side by a considerable margin.

Meanwhile, Qatar have tested themselves at the Copa America, North American Gold Cup and Asian Cup in recent years. They play a fluid 5-3-2 system led by Spanish coach Felix Sanchez, with an emphasis on quick counterattacks and switching play across the flanks in order to catch out opponents.

Clash to follow opening tradition

The last four World Cup openers have produced a total of 17 goals, averaging out at 4.25 per game. While Qatar are seen as underdogs, they come into this clash as reigning champions of Asia, they frustrated the USA in the Gold Cup semi-finals and they’ve spent months preparing together for this game.

However, Qatar have yet to truly match quality opposition. They have faced 18 sides ranked 50th or higher since 2018, conceding 33 times in those games.

What they do have is a front two who have a fantastic partnership, with Akram Afif the creator and foil for Almoez Ali. He scored nine goals in the 2019 Asian Cup to win the golden boot and hit another four in five games at the Gold Cup. With an expectant home crowd watching on, back him to add to a fine tournament record.

While Qatar have firepower, Ecuador scored 27 goals across 18 qualifying games, which is their highest-ever total. They play with an aggressive 4-3-3 and pack a serious punch from set pieces. They’re both capable of contributing to another high-scoring opener, so both teams to score is my selection.

Pair hard to split

Just six spots sit between these two in the FIFA rankings and they’re tough to split in this clash. Ecuador come into this clash having drawn eight of their last 11 games, so it’s tough to see them seeing off the host nation given the lift Qatar should get.

On the other hand, the hosts have won just three of those last 18 clashes with top 50 sides. A big win against a team solidified across a tough South American qualifying campaign also looks unlikely. Given the previous openers, a 2-2 draw is my correct score selection.


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